gf picked up an SE (not sport AFAIK,but has the sync and 6 speaker audio package, not sure exactly which package that is) a few weeks ago, new, 50mi, for $15,000. in a manual. she wanted a manual and enjoys it.
im not too impressed with the manual trans in this car personally. the clutch is too light for my tastes, feels like you are barely doing anything and reduces the feel when trying to feather the clutch, which is necessary when setting off in first gear due to the lack of power. but maybe im just used to the heavy clutch in my car (2010WRX). the gearing is also relatively long for a lower powered car. shorter gears would definitely help that i think.
also, the shifter is sloppy as all hell, with very little feedback. but maybe that can be remedied with some stiffer shifter bushings (is this a cable shifter? or mechanical linkage?)